If this were China, maltese/terrier mix Romeo would be a viral sort of hero.

According to a new promo video for his adoption, the small white dog was brought into the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center a few days ago. Animal rescuers discovered him on the shoulder of the road, waiting faithfully at the side of Juliet, another maltese/terrier who'd been run over by a car. “He stayed with her the whole time…”

… says Isha Willits, a caregiver at the shelter who looks suspiciously like Romeo. “She was injured and probably dying, and he stayed by her side. Unfortunately she died on the way to the vet, [but] he lived, so he's here with us.”

Now, shelter officials are hoping this display of loyalty will score him a real home with a real family in Los Angeles. “He'd cuddle with you all night,” says Willits.

But almost more intriguing than Romeo and Juliet's tragic L.A. traffic saga is the quality and effectiveness of the video — like, single-tear status.

It appears to be part of a nationwide trend toward marketing the more scraggly/visually unappealing shelter animals for their inner beauty instead. Hence the “Back in Black” campaign, aimed at pawning off unpopular dark-colored pets; hence a recent marketing drive for iPad art created by cats; and hence a new “Unadoptables” series on YouTube, which includes Romero's story.

The Pet Collective, an up-and-coming YouTube channel devoted to adorable animal videos, hosts the series. It departs from the same-old “adopt me” ads that have failed shelters for years, instead acknowledging that the Internet would rather watch zany pet bloopers like inseparable fat cats and greyhounds smacking on peanut butter. (Also, a corgi that snuffles around your undersink area until it explodes — but the LAFD isn't signing off on that one.)

Anyway, this is PR genius, for a good cause. If Romeo can't get adopted after that finely edited Hollywood stint with Juliet on the sidewalk, he's a lost cause.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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